I distinctly remember the first time I saw One Direction’s music video for “What Makes You Beautiful” in 2011. My teen self was in awe of the five boys from England and Ireland, and that awe promptly turned into infatuation. Four years later (and now only four boys later), their overproduced catchy pop songs from past albums have transformed into something new — a sound that is more unique, raw and personal in their new album “Made in the A.M.” The only thing that hasn’t changed is my steadfast love of this boy band.
One Direction has mastered the ability to write songs that are fun to sing loudly and badly in the car, and “Made in the A.M.” has this aspect. It also has a new sound. It is evident that the members of One Direction have actively participated in writing the songs on the album and pouring their past memories and experiences into them. Apparently, they wrote every song in the wee hours of the morning, so it seems their album title is appropriate. Some of the songs are reminiscent of artists such as Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac and even U2. Some sound straight out of the “Toy Story” movies. There is also an abundance of slower, sweeter songs that I’m sure Lifetime will use in a film soon, and fewer power and rock ballads.
Video courtesy of One Direction Vevo.
Longtime fans of the band will appreciate songs such as “Perfect,” “End of the Day” and “Temporary Fix” because they inherently sound like One Direction from albums past and it will be a familiar sound. However, songs such as “Olivia” sound like a musical number from the 1950s and remind me of the Beatles. Slower, melancholy songs such as “A.M.,” “I Want to Write You a Song,” “Long Way Down” and “If I Could Fly” are very sweet and probably belong in a Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie, and people will likely prefer them to the catchier pieces. They are reflective, and “Long Way Down” almost seems to reflect on their rise to fame and understanding that it’s a long way down from what they’ve built.
My favorite song, “Walking in the Wind,” is widely believed to be anhomage to Zayn Malik, who left the band in March of 2015, three days after my birthday. Thanks, Zayn. Regardless of Zayn’s voice that sounds like dark chocolate being drizzled on cake, One Direction has proven that they can concoct an album sans Zayn. I’ll admit, his voice was one of the better ones, and the high notes that he could hit did give me heart palpitations, but honestly, in my opinion, “Made in the A.M.” sounds just as great without him.
With any album, there will be songs you skip over, and this album has a few of those. However, I respect the clear effort and emotion in each song, and their non-stop careers that have included a whirlwind of global tours, five albums, two movies and countless music videos. They need a break. And that’s just what they’re going to do. I know they will return in a year or so, and I hope they’ll still be solid as a group and continue to make music that people either listen to shamelessly or with shame.
Final Review: 8/10
Collegian A&E Reporter Clarissa Davies can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DaviesClarissa.